Monday, November 2, 2015

Title: Hidden in Plain Sight (2014)
wood, acrylic, objects on canvas board
14 x 11 x 3 in

I was at a conference this past Friday in Saratoga Springs, NY, called Understanding Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth and Human Trafficking in Saratoga County and Beyond.

Gonzalo Marinez de Vedia, Human Trafficking Specialist with the Worker Justice Center of New York and Coordinator for the North Country and Capital Region Human Trafficking Task Forces, talked about the huge number of labor trafficking victims in New York State.

  • New York State has a rich agricultural industry (over 35 thousand farms) and thus a large amount of seasonal and migrant workers.

  • The majority of our migrant workers are foreign born, immigrating from Mexico and Central America. Many came to the United States to make money for their families and end up in a system of debt bondage and corruption.

  • To get passed the border of Mexico to the United States and eventually to New York State, a victim could have pay to their traffickers up to $10,000 for their transportation, which will be loaned to them by their traffickers. Then once in New York, the laborer will work excruciatingly long hours for wages much lower than what they were promised, living in deplorable conditions. They are charged for any rent, food, washing clothes, and are unable to pay back their debts.

  • Many are undocumented and will not seek help as they fear deportation and perhaps threats from their traffickers who say they will hurt their families back home. 

  • In several cases, labor trafficking can lead to sexual exploitation as well. Check out this link to see the February 2015 issue of Newsweek "What's happening in American Farms" for an in depth look.   Click here  Sex Slaves on the Farm

Stay tuned for any upcoming post that will start to look at how consumers can weigh in.

All artwork is by Joanne Van Genderen unless otherwise specified.

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